I’m still not over the fact that Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams never got back together (preferably in the rain), and I remember the trash shirt Brad Pitt wore on the beach, pictured with Jennifer Aniston the day before they announced their separation more than 10 years ago. There are certain couples in my everyday life whom I love so much that if they announced a split, I might need to take a personal day.
Why do I care? For the same reason you do.
Couples who we see as “perfect” together let us hold onto the belief that love is all you need.
What I’ve learned in my own life and in my work as a therapist is this: Love is absolutely fundamental, but it is not the be all, end all. Deep down, we all know this. But if we let ourselves think about it too much, it makes us kind of sad.
We need love, but we also need someone with whom we can communicate effectively, someone who shares our notion of what commitment means, someone with whom we can build financial intimacy and trust. Relationships are founded on love, yes, but they remain standing on a collection of many other (less glamorous) pillars.
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When celebrities break up, that de-romanticized, very adult truth about love is brought back to the forefront of our minds. I mean, here are the most celebrated, attractive, wealthy, interesting, gifted humans on earth, and they’re getting rejected? We feel an understandable sense of, “If they can’t figure it out, how the &^%$ am I supposed to get it right?”
But before you start binge-listening to Adele, take heart. Love is not, in fact, all you need—but that doesn’t mean it’s not a beautiful start.
Katherine Schafler is a New York City-based licensed psychotherapist.